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'Pay Your Age' Prix Fixe

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by Margaret, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    Easily.



    Can a $150 meal consistently exceed the satisfaction of two $75 meals? Indeed, can a $100 meal consistently provide a better experience than four $25 meals? There comes a point where all you're doing is paying more.

    For my palate and wallet that break line generally comes at about the $25 range. I've been to some darned fine genuine ethnic restaurants and eaten some unparalleled cuisine for an entree cost of $15.

    re: Tetsuya's...sure, a multi-course gastronomic pleasure-ride may justify such higher costs, but I'd consider that more of a vacation than a dining experience.

    In answer to your opening question: Easily. There are a few expensive restaurants that I patronize only on special occasions because of the prices, but the satisfaction I get from one of those meals vastly outstrips any number of "pretty good" dinners.
    I also think you're relying upon a false dichotomy to prop up your argument. It's not like the "quality" of each meal can be scored on some absolute Benthamite scale and then converted into a satisfaction/dollar ratio. I absolutely agree that many restaurants -- "ethnic" or otherwise -- deliver extremely satisfying meals for a relatively low price. But sometimes what my palate is craving is something that my favorite BBQ place or pho house just can't provide. Sometimes part of what you're paying for is atmosphere, service, etc. But a lot of it also has to do with quality and preparation of ingredients, too. (Of course, there are a lot of places out there serving crap for top dollar, too - price doesn't necessarily imply quality.)
     
  2. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    I think there's a point to complaining about prices. I can appreciate fancy cuisine, but typically the prices at fine restaurants are horribly out of line with the quality of ingredients, preparation, and portions in what you get. You're basically paying for the image, the ambience, and the exclusivity of dining in a "name" place. Carlhuber's right in that a simple $10-20 meal at your average ethnic food place will likely be far more satisfying that some boring three course tasting meal at Chez Douche that might, at best, fill you up halfway, even if the latter has really, really hip-looking plates and glassware, and the chef garnishes the dish with a carrot cut in the shape of a rose. Really, the only places I have no qualms about spending money at are steakhouses, because there they tend to do away with the pretension and just give you a good portion of well-prepared meat that actually addresses the whole "eating to fulfill hunger, not to impress people" objective.
    What's wrong with paying for ambience, etc. if that's of value to someone? It's a little unfair, and uncharitable, to assume that everyone who prefers to eat at more expensive restaurants than you do are eating "to impress people", just as it would be unfair to assume that anyone who pays for nice clothes is dressing "to impress people". Many people indulge themselves in one or both of these areas because it gives them pleasure, not because they give a fig what anyone else thinks.
    I also disagree about steakhouses. Steakhouses are very much about ambience and image, although the "image" one is cultivating may be very different than in, say, a "fusion" restaurant. If you were truly eating simply to fulfill hunger a steakhouse likely would be one of the last places you'd eat, given the pretty poor nutrition-per-dollar ratio.
     
  3. ekimho

    ekimho Member

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    I'm in my early 20s, and I think this is ridiculous. It sounds like the sort of thing that would really cheapen the atmosphere of a restaurant. At the risk of sounding horribly elitist, who would want to dine with every twenty-something year old couple that can scrape together sixty bucks? Sorry, but if I'm spending a lot on a meal, I don't want to see some schmuck at the next table getting the same thing for half the price.
     
  4. Renault78law

    Renault78law Senior member

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    I disagree about steakhouses too. $75 for a ribeye? Sure, it's prime, but I'd rather cook it myself. Unfortunately, I cannot cook any of the courses on the menu at Bastide.
     
  5. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    I don't think $25 is particularly expensive for a complete meal.
     
  6. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Senior member Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    I believe steakhouses have a lower margin on the cost of ingredients than most restaurants. Of course cooking a steak is also less labor-intensive. That said, I still prefer to cook a steak myself.
     
  7. VKK3450

    VKK3450 Senior member

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    I think there's a point to complaining about prices. I can appreciate fancy cuisine, but typically the prices at fine restaurants are horribly out of line with the quality of ingredients, preparation, and portions in what you get. You're basically paying for the image, the ambience, and the exclusivity of dining in a "name" place. Carlhuber's right in that a simple $10-20 meal at your average ethnic food place will likely be far more satisfying that some boring three course tasting meal at Chez Douche that might, at best, fill you up halfway, even if the latter has really, really hip-looking plates and glassware, and the chef garnishes the dish with a carrot cut in the shape of a rose. Really, the only places I have no qualms about spending money at are steakhouses, because there they tend to do away with the pretension and just give you a good portion of well-prepared meat that actually addresses the whole "eating to fulfill hunger, not to impress people" objective.

    If you like carrots cut into roses and want a quality meal at a reasonable price then you need look no further than your local Cantonese Restaurant...

    K
     
  8. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    Certainly ambiance and potentially the illusion of "exclusivity" may be motivators to dine at extremely high end restaurants. To some degree, it's the "event" of going out, especially as a couple, the dress, ambiance, conversation, etc.

    Steakhouses do usually have lower margins than other types of restaurants in terms of the cost of food, but much of the profit margin in restaurants is from liquid refreshments, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Remember that the soda that you're paying $2+ for, costs cents if that, and while alcohol has a lower profit margin on a percentage basis, it is more expensive than soda. In high end restaurants like Per Se, etc, wine sales represent a large portion of their profit, as they'll make hundreds of dollars per bottle.
     
  9. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    Certainly ambiance and potentially the illusion of "exclusivity" may be motivators to dine at extremely high end restaurants. To some degree, it's the "event" of going out, especially as a couple, the dress, ambiance, conversation, etc.

    Steakhouses do usually have lower margins than other types of restaurants in terms of the cost of food, but much of the profit margin in restaurants is from liquid refreshments, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Remember that the soda that you're paying $2+ for, costs cents if that, and while alcohol has a lower profit margin on a percentage basis, it is more expensive than soda. In high end restaurants like Per Se, etc, wine sales represent a large portion of their profit, as they'll make hundreds of dollars per bottle.

    Good point. I've consistently heard this from friends and clients in the restaurant industry, but had forgotten it in the context of this discussion (the point about the profit being in the drinks, not the part about the margins at steakhouses, which I'm sure is right but is not something I've heard before).
     

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